“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” Luke 9:23,24
So which is it? Jesus condemns wealth or doesn’t?
In order for us to see how Jesus sees wealth, we need to start with what He is calling us to. When we accepted Jesus into our lives, we knew that we were saved from an eternity of hell. But is that where discipleship ends? It is pretty clear that Jesus calls us to much more than that. In this post I will describe how the problem with wealth has more to do with worshiping it… making it an idol. It is not the wealth Jesus condemns, but the position it holds in our hearts.
We are called to a life of deeper and deeper sanctification. What I mean by that is we are to deny more and more of ourselves and become more accepting of the crosses thrown our way. We are to become smaller and Jesus is to become larger as we age and mature. Putting Jesus at the center of your life is about obeying every command that He speaks of in the Bible. If you choose this path for your life, you will find joy, peace, and love. That is what the Spirit brings and that is exactly what Jesus promises.
I am not talking about HAPPINESS!
This is a common misconception. You can achieve unbelievable joy even though you are paralyzed or have a bad marriage or have kids that hate you. How is that? If you love the way Jesus loved, without thought of self (denying self), you will find joy and love in the giving. This is simply obeying the Lord. Don’t choose this path for your life and you risk becoming small and feeling bitterness, frustration and anger…certainly not joy.
Allow me to further explain what Jesus tried to teach us about wealth in Luke 12:15-17
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” He told them a parable. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.’ And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”
Some of you might dismiss this passage as merely for the rich. I don’t think so. It applies to all of us whether we know it or not. In 1973, the average home had a square footage of 1660. In 2014, the average square footage is 2690. And that is with our family size decreasing. In 1973 the average family size was 3.14 and in 2014 it is 2.54. So would you say that we are building bigger barns and perhaps don’t realize it?
So what did Jesus say to the young man about building bigger barns?
“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you…this is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
This parable is not about the evil of long-term savings or about the size of your house or the money you have. JESUS NEVER CONDEMNS WEALTH! So what does Jesus condemn? Notice how many times the man says “I” in the story. Jesus is describing a self-centered person who is concerned about himself. You might want to use Frank Sinatra’s mantra – “My Way” to describe the young man’s goals.
Here is the point. God created everything. He owns everything, even our talents. Christ died to redeem each of us. So God owns us twice. As a result, we are merely managers of what He has gifted us, which is all that we own, including our spouse and children.
“Command those that are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19
The point is that Jesus does not care how much you have or how big your house is. He does care about your heart and whether you are holding your “things” higher than Him. He is looking for us to treat (manage) all for an eternal impact versus any impact we may have here. The eternal impact is measured in what we give away. This is called “God’s Way”.
God’s Way is a ticket to all that we desire:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:33
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38
Remember: To whom much is given, much is expected. Listen to God.
Thanks to Phil Vaughan of Southeast Christian Church for his thoughts on this subject.
Download this free ebook that will help you understand what’s possible once you discover how to become a better steward by eliminating taxes by focusing on Kingdom causes that will enable you to build an enduring family legacy.
By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.